Thursday, February 17, 2011

On Wisconsin?

So things in the Badger State are getting pretty crazy. I'll just provide a few facts and clearly label my opinions so that you know I am not trying to persuade my readers (I do have three followers so I can justifiably use plural pronouns here). Plus, I'm not using my "work time" so my students will still have their labs graded for tomorrow.

Fact: Wisconsin's budget is not simple, nor is it suffering from a surfeit of positive income.

Fact: The Budget Proposal from the Governor removes most opportunities for State workers to bargain as a collective (Full 12+ pp Bill here. ca. 48 pp. Summary here).

Fact: Many people disagree with each other about the above budget.

Fact: Students, teachers, and thousands of other people have taken time to voice opposition to the Governor's budget proposal.

Fact: Some of the deficit numbers cited do not conform to any sense of an "actual" deficit.

Opinion: Reward or not, any feeling of crisis - real or imagined - is a great way to motivate people.

Fact: The Governor has called his budget a "Modest Proposal."

Fact: Almost 300 years ago, Jonathan Swift also made a "Modest Proposal."

Fact: Under the budget proposal, wage increases to state employees can not be larger than the Consumer Price Index. Fun bonus fact: there is more than one way to calculate a consumer price index; some indices are much less than others.

Fact: Under the budget proposal, state employees will pay more for health care. Extra bonus fact: The cost of health care has been increasing faster than the CPI. (How much faster depends on how you figure the CPI and how you define "care.")

Opinion: This would lock state employees into salaries that is guaranteed to decrease every year. Wait, would that be "Fact?"

Opinion: I find it difficult to imagine how this enables a University to recruit the best candidates (or any school, for that matter).

Fact: I work more than 50 hours per week during the school year (9-months).

Fact: I do not draw a salary during the summer.

Fact: This summer, I will be paid for about four weeks of work through grant proposals (for 40 hrs/wk). Bonus Fact: I usually work on research projects for 8-10 weeks over the summer. Double Bonus Fact: I will often work more than 8 hrs/day over the summer. Triple-scoop Yummy Fact: One of my grant funding sources is on the chopping block at the federal level, leaving me with half of the summer salary I assumed I would have.

Opinion: Like all of my other colleagues involved in education at all levels, I work hard. And like them, I fully acknowledge the fiscal difficulties and am prepared to do my part. But any proposal that would lock me permanently into a diminishing paycheck yet ask more of my time in return doesn't make sense to me.

Fact: I am not alone. Seeing this firsthand made me feel good about being an educator for the first time in several weeks.

For those of you in Wisconsin - pay attention and participate as you will. For those of you outside the state - pay attention because we're just riding the bow wave. The ship won't come in for some time yet. And there's all sorts of exciting stuff for Universities to consider - our flagship campus may be cut away from the herd.